Nation-Building >> Waging Peace | return to front page

"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

Add to Google Reader or Homepage Subscribe in Bloglines Subscribe in NewsGator Online Add to netvibes

website stats

Previous Posts
Netflix, Inc.
ThinkGeek T-Shirts will make you cool!
illy coffee - 2 cans, 2 mugs for just $26.

Thursday, March 20, 2003


Waging Peace

posted by Aziz P. at Thursday, March 20, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
This article in the WaPo is a more personal look at Dean on eth campaign trail. Dean reacts to the enthusiasm his campaign has generated, as well as speaking frankly of his straight-talking methods as both asset and liability. As well as unrequited love for lollipops (read it, you'll see). There is also a slight suggestion that Dean's candor is not as off the cuff as it seems:

Dean says he doesn't do things for political reasons. When you start qualifying everything, he says, you get in trouble.

But when a young mother asks a question about Dean's high approval rating from the National Rifle Association, he gives a curious answer. After saying that Vermont has no need for gun-control laws -- it has one of the lowest homicide rates in the country -- he concedes that it's a view some people will have trouble with.

"But it's also a position that will allow me to win the presidency," he says. Al Gore's strong support for gun control cost him dearly in a few key states in 2000, Dean says. "If Al Gore had my position on guns, I wouldn't be here and he'd be in the White House."

Dean will have to be careful - while his postions are pragmatic, talking about the political expediency of them leaves him vulnerable. Also, Dean has been pushing this theme recently, about setting a bad precedent:

"The threshold for what America does militarily has got to be higher than anyone else's," Dean is saying. "America has always set the moral tone in foreign policy. And if we attack a nation unilaterally that's not a threat to us, it means that someone will try the same thing, somewhere down the line, and justify it by our actions."

This is a flat-out poor strategic move on his part. While I agree that America must set the moral tone, the argument that other nations will be "inspired" by our action in Iraq to act similarly (ex. India attacking Paksitan, or China attacking Taiwan) is deeply flawed. Precedent has absolutely zero meaning in the context of foreign policy - China's decision to invade Taiwan will always hinge on what our commitment to defend Taiwan is, for example. Eugene Volokh has a fairly solid and rigorous rebuttal of Dean's point that I think demonstrates its flaws well. It's far better to insist on "moral tone" for foreign policy than to put too much stock in precedents. The moral arguments are very useful and will have resonance on the right as well as the left.


Post a Comment


View blog top tags
The Assault on Reason

Obama 2008 - I want my country back

I want my country back - Obama 2008

About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.